Photo by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer
Four legendary employees with considerably more than 100 years of combined work experience at Opelousas General Hospital Health System were recognized on Thursday night during the facility’s annual Hall of Fame Gala.
The semi-formal event at the Opelousas Civic Center drew a large crowd that mingled and socialized before hospital executive officer Kenneth Cochran recognized Mary Ruth Clues, Judy Theall and doctors’ Frederick Lionel Mayer and Lana Metoyer as the 2022 honorees.
Clues, Mayer and Metoyer were presented their awards posthumously by Cochran.
MARY RUTH CLUES
Clues was employed in the OGH Dietary Department for 51 years before retiring in 2013.
Testimonials presented by her hospital co-workers during the Thursday night event described Clues as a head hospital chef whose engaging personality and meal preparation complemented the needs of staff members, patients and physicians.
Those who spoke about their association with Clues during her work at the hospital described her as “an extension of the OGH family, whose work ethic during her 51 years of employment might never be replicated.”
Clues was always “happy and had a way of making people feel special. I would always call her mom,” Cynthia Colston said.
Barbara Butler said it was evident that Clues “gave 51 years to the hospital of the best that she could give. What a smile she had,” Butler added.
FREDERICK L. MAYER
Mayer worked as a physician and surgeon in various roles at OGH and other health care facilities until he was 77.
Like Mary Ruth Clues and Lana Metoyer, Mayer, whose medical career spanned 42 years, grew up in Opelousas. Mayer joined the OGH medical staff in 1969, became one of the original founders of Doctors’ Hospital and served as an LSU clinical professor of orthopedic services at Lafayette Hospital from 1976-84.
Mayer worked primarily as an orthopedic trauma specialist in the OGH emergency department and worked emergency room cases at the facility until his retirement.
According to those who provided details of his life during his presentation, Mayer often found solace away from surgery cases by hunting extensively in the Mississippi woods.
Dr. Donnie Fitzgerald recalled provided anecdotes on Mayer’s career, describing the surgeon as engaging. “Once you met him and knew him, you had a friend for life. Dr. Mayer was a terrific fellow,” Fitzgerald said.
Susan Dugas said Mayer was someone who was obviously dedicated to his profession.
“You could call him at any time. Patients were his primary concern,” said Dugas.
Metoyer, who joined husband Dr. Derek Metoyer in creating the Metoyer Family Practice, apparently had a way of connecting with her patients.
Many of them often referred to Lana Metoyer’s gentle nature and professional nurturing as something that resembled “an earth angel.”
Cochran said Metoyer was respected by everyone at OGH. “They loved her and admired her ability to go above and beyond taking care of her patients,”
Dr. Mia Ben recalled when she and Lana Metoyer were medical students. Metoyer Ben said, was determined to eventually come back to Opelousas and “give back” to the community where Metoyer grew up.
“She related to the people of Opelousas and she did what she wanted to do. That was giving back to Opelousas through her gentle and spiritual care,” Ben said.
Metoyer, who graduated from Opelousas High in 1987, was presented with honorary awards locally, including St. Landry Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen. Metoyer was also listed among Louisiana’s Best Doctors by Louisiana Life Magazine.
Theall worked in Opelousas beginning in 1983 in various advertising and promotional positions before becoming the OGH Community Relations and Physicians Recruiting Director in 1999.
Evidently her former marketing career and Theall’s public relations skills were successful in attracting some of the physicians and employees that are still instrumental in operating the OGH facility.
Cochran described Theall as another OGH worker who was willing “to go the extra mile and along with her ability at being gracious.”
Opelousas attorney Elbert Guillory said that he has always been aware of Theall’s “tremendous energy and spirit,” while Dr. Gary Blanchard described Theall as someone that he has always considered as “a vibrant spirit, a person that is warm and caring.”
Deanna LeJeune said much of Theall’s success in her professional career came from the ability to connect with the individuals Theall met.
During her acceptance speech, Theall, who was a member of numerous Opelousas and St. Landry Parish civic organizations said, she was thankful for “the honor of working with so many successful people.”